Chip's Best Albums of 2008

12/16/2008 / | / by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Some time next week we'll be posting Pomp Culture's Best Music of 2008. A series of top 5 or 10 albums lists from all the members of the Pomp Culture Collective. While I began compiling my "best of" list last month I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to confine my picks to just 10. Then I realized I couldn't keep it to 15. Before all was said and done I had a list of 30 albums staring me in the face. So rather than having some monstrous list take over next week's post I'm going to get my Top 30-11 picks out of the way now, and then highlight my top 10 next week with the rest of the writing staff.

30. "Modern Guilt" by Beck - Far from his best work, but tracks like 'Gamma Ray', 'Orphans' as well as the title track certainly make this one worth the listen. Video: 'Modern Guilt'.

29. "Radio Retaliation" by Thievery Corporation - The Corporation certainly don't break any new ground here with their downbeat electronic music. But it still works, bringing together sounds from all over the globe, bouncing from Jamaica to India to Africa to Brazil and so on. Highlights include tracks featuring guest artists like Anoushka Shankar, Femi Kuti and Seu Jorge. Video: 'The Numbers Game'

28. "Stop, Drop and Roll!!!" by The Foxboro Hot Tubs - The guys from Green Day take a time out to do some 60's-style garage rock. While there are a couple duds on this album (Alligator sounds like a bad Kinks cover band), overall SD&R is a quick (the full album clocks in at around 32 minutes) and enjoyable listen. Enough to keep us satisfied until Green Day comes back with their next album this Spring. Video: Foxboro Hot Tubs performing 'Mother Mary' live.

27. "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" by David Byrne and Brian Eno - When I heard Byrne and Eno had a new album my initial thought was, "Well that's gonna be a weird one." Surprisingly this latest collaboration is much more accessible than their previous efforts. This one is best listened to in it's entirety. Video: 'Strange Overtones'.

26. "Midnight Boom" by The Kills - This third album from The Kills has become my favorite from the group. Further embracing a post punk sound, they're much livelier than they were on past albums and they're better off for it. The track 'Cheap and Cheerful' is great. Video: 'Last Day of Magic'.

25. "Just a Souvenir" by Squarepusher - Big thanks to fellow Pomp Culture writer Lingering Bursitis for introducing me to this. By far the strangest album on my list, Squarepusher incorporates jazz fusion, drum and bass and punk music in this incredibly surreal trip. Tom Jenkinson's work on bass guitar is phenomenal. Video: Squarepusher performing 'Delta-V' live.

24. "Richard Swift as Onasis" by Richard Swift - One thing I've come to learn with Richard Swift is not to expect anything he releases to really be like anything before it. This is actually a double EP featuring very raw stripped down tracks. Video: 'Knee-High Boogie Blues'.

23. "Langhorne Slim" by Langhorne Slim - Yet another solid release from Langhorne Slim. For me the best part of this new album was the track 'She's Gone' which he did an awesome rendition of during a session at Daytrotter a few year's back. Video: Langhorne performing 'Restless' on David Letterman.

22. "Accelerate" by REM - Where the hell did this come from? I had all but written off REM at this point as their heyday had clearly passed. Then along comes "Accelerate" which is easily their best album since "New Adventures in Hi-Fi". This album comes out full-force with it's opening track and for the most part keeps the pace going throughout. This could probably be dubbed 'the most pleasant surprise' of 2008 for me. Video: 'Supernatural Superserious'.

21. "Anthology 1997-98" by Faraquet - I first heard Faraquet back in college during the Napster days when I was downloading immense amounts of music and was sampling everything I could find. Faraquet was a band out of DC that specialized in math rock. The only released one album, "A View From This Tower" which I found at Amoeba Records in Berkeley many years ago. Sadly they disbanded after that, but recently got back together to compile and remaster several of their songs for this Anthology album. Video: Faraquet performing 'Study in Movement' live.

20. "Jim" by Jamie Lidell - Lidell sheds the electronica a bit more on this release and really shows off his throwback soul sound. There's no possible way you can sit through the opening track 'Another Day' and not be in a better mood when it's over. 'All I Wanna Do' is baby-making music folks. Video: 'Another Day'

19. "We Have You Surrounded" by The Dirtbombs - I've been a big fan of the Dirtbombs for quite a while now. This isn't their greatest effort I've heard but it's certainly better than a lot of other rock music out there these days. Video: the Dirtbombs performing 'Wreck My Flow' live.

18. "I'll Be Lightning" by Liam Finn - Son of Neil Finn of Crowded House fame, Liam's debut is great and hopefully is the mark of great things to come from him. His live performances are pretty sweet as he tends to play multiple instruments during one song. Video: Liam performing 'Lead Balloon'.

17. "Hometowns" by The Rural Alberta Advantage - The RAA are a indie group out of Canada I just heard on eMusic last month. Good stuff and the lead singer sounds a lot like Jeff Mangum. Video: Rural Alberta Advantage performing live.

16. "Made in the Dark" by Hot Chip - This album is really hit and miss for me. There are some phenomenal tracks but others leave little to be desired. Nonetheless, the good heavily outweighs the bad here. The first four tracks are a must-hear. Video: 'One Pure Thought'.

15. "Third" by Portishead - 11 years between albums would seem like a lot had "Chinese Democracy" not come out this year. Luckily for us the reason behind the long gap for Portishead was more being on hiatus and working on other projects, thus "Third" is by no means some overworked bloated piece of crap that took over a decade to complete. Instead it's Portishead doing what they do best, creating dark, atmospheric music bolstered by the haunting vocals of Beth Gibbons. This is probably not for everyone. There are more bleeps and bloops in this album to put Radiohead to shame. Video: Portishead performing 'We Carry On' live.

14. "Vampire Weekend" by Vampire Weekend - (ducking rotten fruit thrown by other Pomp Culture writers) Yes I know we deemed these guys 'Overrated' earlier this year, but dammit if these songs aren't catchy! This album grew on me like a wart resembling Paul Simon. Video: 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa'.

13. "Walk It Off" by Tapes 'n Tapes - Two years ago, Tapes n Tapes' debut "The Loon" was my new favorite album I kept bugging people to check out. While I think "Walk It Off" doesn't quite live up to their debut album, it's still good in it's own respect. Video: 'Hang Them All'.

12. "Kitsune Tabloid" by Digitalism - This album is actually a continuous mix compilation put together by the group Digitalism. They do a great job mixing in some obscure tracks with stuff that's a little more well-known (at least if you follow indie music). A great party album.

11. "Furr" by Blitzen Trapper - These guys are from Portland, Oregon and do some good alt-country/Americana music. A nice mix of Wilco, the Grateful Dead and the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Video: Blitzen Trapper performing 'Furr' on Conan O'Brien.


That's it for now. Check out my Top 10 next week when we unveil Pomp Culture's Best Albums of 2008.